This relentless exercise in nihilistic violence is a stunner, being
the bleakest and most psychotic film ever made by Hong Kongís Tsui Hark.
This deranged 1980 film, which is also known as DI YI
LEI XING WEI XIAN and DONíT PLAY WITH FIRE, was a surprise coming from
Tsui Hark, who even at that early stage in his career was clearly
destined for a solidly commercial path (as proven by the
audience-friendly likes of ZU: WARRIORS FROM THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN, ONCE
UPON A TIME IN CHINA, GREEN SNAKE, etc). Heís never made another film
quite like DANGEROUS ENCOUNTERS OF THE FIRST KIND, and neither, for that
matter, has anyone else.
In a nightmarish environ of violent hold-ups, terrorist
bombings and random violence, three joyriding teens run down an old man
one night and immediately drive off. Itís anything but a clean getaway,
however, as the sociopathic young Pearl witnesses the accident. Pearl is
a violent ex-felon who lives in a poverty-ridden ghetto with her abusive
cop brother. She tracks down the boys and blackmails them into doing her
bidding by decorating their parentsí car with deer entrails. A bit later
she enlists them in a bus hijacking from which they immediately flee.
The following day Pearl registers her displeasure with
the boys by pouring gasoline on them and brandishing a flame. But before
Pearl can carry out her threat sheís nearly run down by an American drug
runner carrying millions of yen in Japanese money orders. Pearl elects
to steal the loot while the scumbag is distracted.
Next Pearl and the guys try and cash the money orders,
which isnít at all easy, as Japanese money orders are worthless in Hong
Kong. Their efforts take them into the orbit of a dangerous triad gang
who nearly kill them all. In the process Pearl breaks with the boys and
goes her own way--a terrible idea, it turns out, for everyone involved!
Although Tsui Harkís aims here were apparently
political in nature, the film has the same ultra-kinetic style of his
more commercial offerings. But then again, DANGEROUS ENCOUNTERS OF THE
FIRST KINDíS fast pacing and action-based cutting are harsh and
unexpected in a way Harkís other films arenít.
The use of blunt shock cuts is extremely impacting,
enhancing the doom-ridden atmosphere. Itís a measure of the filmís
toughness that the one major female character, played by the attractive
Lin Chen Chi, is the most dangerous and unpleasant of the entire
lot--although Hark is careful to show that her psychosis stems from the
hopelessness of her environment.
As for the violence, itís harsh, bloody and unpleasant,
and depicted with an eye for messy consequences you wonít find in too
many other Hong Kong actioners. This film, unlike the Tsui Hark produced
A BETTER TOMORROW, will never be termed ďballetic.Ē Relentless is a
better adjective, particularly when describing the final cemetery set
showdown--which isnít entirely satisfying, alas, mainly because a
crucial participant is killed off too early.
Another sore spot is the score, which, as with many
Hong Kong movies of the time, is a distracting patchwork of pre-existing
music pieces. Particularly irksome is the use of Jean-Michele Jarreís
new agey composition ďOxygene IVĒ in an action sequence, which simply
doesnít work, even as counterpoint.
DANGEROUS ENCOUNTERS OF THE FIRST KIND (DI YI XING WEI XIAN; DONíT
PLAY WITH FIRE)
Fotocine Film Production
Director: Tsui Hark
Producer: Fung Wing-Fat
Screenplay: Tsui Hark, Szeto Cheuk-Hon
Cinematography: David Chung
Editing: Chow Cheung Kan, Tsi Wai Wu
Cast: Lo Lieh, Lin Chen Chi, Au Albert, Lung Tin Sang, Che Biu Law, Lui
Ray, Bruce Baron